The Flying Saucer Philosopher

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Chapter 3: Talking Heads

Let’s go back before the party and the sea monster. Marigold found out about Plato’s existence the same way as everyone else on Planet Earth: she saw him on CNN. The same giant sea monster was getting set to attack Los Angeles and Plato seemed to stop it. He seemed to. Then, the last thing everyone saw was Plato hovering next to the sea monster while it stood hip deep in the ocean and hurled barrels of toxic waste at the Fizzer pharmaceutical planet in L.A.’s industrial park. The plant had to close down for months to do repairs and clean-up.

Weird, right?

Plato had his reasons. Once the sea monster ran out of barrels of toxic waste, we didn’t see it again. Ever. And by “we” I meant the world. The sea monster kept to itself from then on.

I had no idea Plato would go public that night. Marigold and I had had band practice and we had come back to my house to hang out with my mom and we were all watching CNN and this story broke. People were getting off work in L.A. when this monster started to appear way off the coast, walking toward the city. First it was his eyes sticking out from under the waves, then its head and then its shoulders and so on.

It kind of looked like a purple version of that He-Man and the Masters of the Universe villain, Mer-Man. So we’re watching there on TV and news helicopters are flying in for a closer look and this horrible super creature is coming up out of the ocean, right?

Totally wiggy.

I’m freaking out; what does this mean?

Before long, the US Air Force orders the news copters out of the sky because they have scrambled and fighter jets are flying out and shooting missiles and bullets at the creature, but it’s not doing anything. It’s a straight Godzilla scenario. I mean, I remember watching a video of what fighter jet mounted guns can do to a refrigerator on YouTube, but I guess sea monsters are tougher than refrigerators.

So this thing keeps coming when – lo and behold – a certain flying saucer we all know and love appears in the sky. He shows up several hundred feet above the sea monster, hovers there for a second and then drags the creature back out to sea. Marlo told me later that he used a tractor beam.

Whenever they used a tractor beam in a movie, I had thought they would be totally impossible. But I guess not.

He had to drag the creature out a bunch of times to get him to quit coming. In fact, he had to drag him into the sky and then drop him into the ocean from way up to get the monster’s attention, but he got his attention and that time the monster did not start making for the Hills of Hollywood again.

OK.

But Marlo was smart enough to realize he’d be back.

Meanwhile, I’m freaking out. Marlo and I talked, all the time, about the day when Marlo would really begin to actively protect the public, be seen by cameras, make his presence known. I hadn’t thought we had decided to go forward and do this yet. I’m sending him text messages saying “What the hell?” and “What are you doing?” but he’s not replying.

It was like, you know when you are hanging out with a bunch of people and one of your good friends tells this total lie and you realize it would be a dick move to call him on it but you also feel like a dick for going along with it? Watching Plato on TV with my mom and girlfriend was like that.

My mom is making Marigold make her more gin and tonics than she usually does and Marigold is trying to hide the fact that she’s about to burst into tears because a flying saucer has scared her so badly. Aliens, she was thinking: this means aliens.

I said, “Aren’t you more freaked out by a giant sea monster than a tiny spaceship?”

She said, “We live in a landlocked state. Way, way in.” Kansas is a long way from sea monsters. I couldn’t argue with that.

So basically everyone in the room is freaking out. I know more than anyone else in the entire world (except Marlo) about the flying saucer, but I don’t know what the hell is happening or why.

Marlo and the monster disappeared for about an hour and half. Talking heads talk a lot of breathless anxiousness, trying to earn their berth at the network trough. And then the flying saucer and the sea monster show up together, again, all peaceable, and the monster throws two dozen barrels of toxic waste at a pharmaceutical plant.

The network cuts to the action in silence and we – and I think everyone on basically the whole planet – watch the destruction for a while. The barrel throwing part. Toxic stuff like I said before. Anyway, eventually they have to let the talkers chew it over but they didn’t know anything. They might as well have come on and chanted “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know – I have no idea.” But no one ever says that on TV? Have you ever noticed that?

No one ever says, “Honestly? No fucking clue.”

My mom went to bed after that and pretty soon Marlo was knocking at my window, which put me in a pretty weird position. Marigold and I were in my room and she was really freaking out. I had to choose between my two huge obligations in life.

I told Marlo I’d call him in a little bit. This meant he had to find an alley, turn into a flying saucer again and fly himself home, because he was looking for me to drive him there and make things look normal.

Oh well, though. If he hadn’t showed up as Plato on national TV without warning me, my girlfriend wouldn’t have been crying.

He could walk home, for all I cared.

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